The Green Bay Packers squandered an early lead in London against the New York Giants. After jumping out to a 17-3 start, Green Bay was outscored 24-3 the remainder of the way. That included zero second-half points, where the Packers have been particularly bad this season. Green Bay managed only three true drives in the second half – an indictment of both the offense and the defense. Before their final drive, head coach Matt LaFleur and the offense ran the ball only three times out of 11 plays. Those three plays gained 16 yards for over 5 yards per carry.
In the pass game, Rodgers missed opportunities, took deep shots when underneath routes were open, and the right side of the Packers’ offensive line had some significant struggles in pass protection.
The Packers got the ball with 7:50 remaining in the 3rd quarter up 20-13 on their own 12-yard line.
Green Bay starts off their second half with one of their favorite play-action concepts – Yankee. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hits wide receiver Allen Lazard on the in-breaker for a gain of 18 yards.
After a short run from Aaron Jones, the Packers call Yankee yet again. This time, Rodgers takes the deep shot. In a bubble, the decision is fine. There’s no deep safety and receiver Romeo Doubs has leverage inside. However, the Packers have had a difficult time completing deep shots this year and Lazard is wide open again on the dig route underneath for another nice chunk gain. The Packers get a penalty and first down for illegal contact out of the play.
After an 11-yard run by running back AJ Dillon and a scramble drill to receiver Randall Cobb, the Packers are in business at the Giants’ 38 yard-line.
After a two-yard run by Jones, things start to fall apart. For the 3rd time in the drive, the Packers call Yankee. Again, Rodgers takes the shot to Doubs on the post route. This time, though, there’s a safety over the top. Rodgers is lucky to overthrow Doubs as much as he did or it would have likely been an interception.
On the ensuing play, Rodgers gets sacked when both right guard Royce Newman and right tackle Elgton Jenkins get quickly beat off the snap. Jenkins tries to help Newman inside on the defensive tackle and is late getting out to protect the edge. In that effort, he doesn’t help Newman, who is walked into Rodgers’ lap, and barely gets a hand on the edge player.
The Packers are moved out of field goal range and have to punt.
The Packers next get the ball back with 10:08 left in the 4th quarter, tied 20-20 on their own 25. Despite Green Bay averaging 4.7 yards on the ground on the day, the Packers took two deep shots and Rodgers was late on a crosser for a quick three-and-out.
It seems that Rodgers has a penchant for attaching to guys he trusts when the game gets tight. That can work when you have Davante Adams, but Rodgers has always been at his best in the Matt LaFleur era when he is playing within the system and distributing the ball.
On the first play, Rodgers throws deep to Lazard on what is a designed clear-out. Two Giants defenders race to cover the flats in a busted assignment and there’s a clear window for Doubs behind on a slant.
On the next play, the Packers run one of their favorite rub routes out of a stacked formation. The receiver on the line of scrimmage, Doubs, is rubbing the defender who is walked up. That leaves space for Cobb to knife in behind for a quick-hitter. There is no other read. It’s designed to hit Cobb right off the last step in the drop. If he’s covered (which he is not), there are some delayed routes available. Rodgers holds onto the ball and throws late which allows the Giants to recover and be in a position to break up the pass.
On the last play of the series, the Packers draw up some designed double-moves to the bottom of the screen. Cobb is selling a stalk block before releasing on a wheel, and Lazard sells a post before breaking vertically on a fade. Rodgers instead looks at the top of the screen and is late to come back to Cobb and Lazard. He doesn’t see Lazard streaking wide open down the field and has to throw the ball away due to pressure from the right side of the offensive line.
After going down 27-20 with 6:08 left in the game, Green Bay comes out with one of their more balanced drives of the day. It leaned on what Rodgers and the Packers have been best at this year: the run game, throwing high percentage RPOs, and hitting quick game underneath. They steadily moved the ball downfield, ate the clock, and put themselves on New York’s six-yard line with a 3rd and 1 with 1:11 left to go in the game.
We know what happened next – two passes and two batted balls. On 4th down, Rodgers went away from the system and again tried to get the ball to a guy that he trusted. Green Bay had an RPO call with a rub route to the top of the screen, a handoff to Dillon, and a fade to the bottom to Allen Lazard. Based on the pre-snap look, Rodgers knows he has man coverage across the board with the Giants all lined up at the line of scrimmage showing an all-out blitz. He also knows the direction of the run blocking from his line. Instead of looking to the concept at the top which is perfect for man-coverage or handing the ball off away from the blitz, Rodgers instead throws into the unblocked defenders to Lazard. The ball is tipped and the game is all but over. Both the concept side and run would have likely netted a touchdown.
The Packers' offense has potential, but it’s not a shot-play offense right now. When they stay on schedule, lean on the run game, and use Rodgers to distribute the ball in the quick game, on RPOs, and designed play-action, they’re deadly efficient. When they get off schedule, take low-percentage shots, and get away from the run game, they’re a bad offense. Green Bay has made some strides, but there’s still work to be done and issues to be ironed out before they can be considered among the elite teams for the 2022 season.